Cyber Attack on USA! Duqu / Stuxnet Is Prime Suspect

We’ve been following the development of Cyber Warfare from Stuxnet to Duqu, warning about the dangers of a possible attack on U.S. soil. Well, now it’s happened. Over a period of two to three months, a water pump used in a U.S. water facility has been turning on and off rapidly and it finally broke. This pump was hooked up to a supervisory control and data acquisition software (SCADA) used by the utility which is exactly the type of system the Stuxnet and Duqu computer attacks were designed to infiltrate and control. Other minor glitches were reported in the water utility during this period. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this water station was located in Springfield, Illinois – almost in the center of the U.S. It is also known that the SCADA software vendor was hacked, with usernames and passwords stolen.

There are several concerns about this incident. The first is that the I.P. of the attacker is located in Russia. Another is that nobody at any other water pumping stations have been notified. In fact, no other SCADA operators seem to know about this attack. Because of this, there could be multiple facilities under similar attack right now. A different possibility could be that the hackers know how to disable water systems and have moved on to another critical aspect of the infrastructure. While the U.S. military has stated that military response to these type of attacks is a possibility, it’s very difficult to know if this was a state sponsored attack, a criminal enterprise, or recreational hackers. While the attack originated from Russia, it could have been carried out by agents of another country temporarily residing in Russia.

While there are many unknowns, we do know that this was possibly the first major cyber attack in the U.S. to destroy government property. Is this a prelude to a much larger attack? Only time will tell, but we do know that if it could happen once then it will probably happen again and if it could happen in Springfield, Il – then it could happen anywhere in the U.S.A.

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